Do you know about Orange County Veterans Services Office?
No? Let me formally introduce myself. My name is Betsy Corbett and I’m your Orange County veterans service officer.
My office is located at the Department of Social Services in Hillsborough; however I have weekly office hours on Mondays at the Seymour Center in Chapel Hill, and on Wednesdays at the Central Orange Senior Center in Hillsborough. My job is to help veterans and their dependents access federal, state, and local benefits they may be eligible for, such as compensation, pensions (veteran and surviving spouse), health care, education, burial, and appeals, to name a few . Pension is one particular program I would like to share with you that I’ve seen many veterans use and inquire about as they begin to age in place.
Generally, to be eligible for this program a veteran must have served 90 days of active duty service, with at least one day during a wartime period to qualify for VA pension. After 1980, you must have served at least 24 months or full period in which you were called for active duty. In addition to service requirements you must be:
• Age 65 or older, OR
• Totally and permanently disabled, OR
• A patient in a nursing home receiving skilled nursing care, OR
• Receiving Social Security Disability Insurance, OR
• Receiving Supplemental Security Income
If you fall under any of those categories your yearly family income must also be less than the amount set by Congress to qualify for the veterans pension benefit. The VA generally pays the difference between your “countable income” and the VA’s annual pension limits in 12 monthly payments. Your countable income can often times be reduced by subtracting unreimbursed medical expenses (out of pocket cost after medical insurance).Veterans or surviving spouses who are eligible for VA pension and are housebound or require the aid and attendance of another person may be eligible for an additional monetary payment. These benefits are paid in addition to monthly pension.
I was fortunate to meet with a 75-year-old wartime Veteran that read about Veterans Services in the Senior Times, Orange County’s news and activities publication for older adults. He called and scheduled an appointment to discuss what he might be eligible for. After reviewing his military service, income, disabilities, and medical expenses (which includes his medical premiums, co-pays, and prescriptions, etc.) we completed a pension application, and within a few months, he began receiving a pension that he was eligible for possibly as early as 10 years ago.
As veterans and their family members age, laws tend to change, and/or more services become available. Therefore you never know what you may be eligible for years after your military service.
For more information regarding Veteran Affairs, Department of Defense, and North Carolina Division of Veterans Affairs benefits please contact me via phone 919-245-2890 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Betsy Corbett, MA, LCSWA, is the veterans service officer at the Orange County Department of Social Services. Corbett and Orange County Department of Social Services partner with Orange County Department on Aging to provide counseling and education to veterans regarding their eligibility for Veterans Affairs health and financial aid benefits.